tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 12, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
making money like the companies in other industries, and there are some down sides. on the other hand, you get on the plane now, it's clean. >> and with that, i've got to say good-bye to you and also to the viewers. good night. make sure you keep watching. "hardball" is next. turning the page. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. last night "the washington post" reported that the fbi began an investigation last summer of an associate of donald trump with ties to the russians. were they trying to get thisify to a mole for moscow in the trump campaign? then how do we explain donald trump saying relations with moscow are the worst ever? and what's up with steve bannon? has trump abandoned the nationalist bad boy who brought him to victory last november?
is he dumping the america first doctrine and buying into the same establishment thinking? but as the president signals anger with russia or syria's use of chemical weapons, the news keeps coming of his campaign's connections with moscow. "the washington post" is reporting that a fisa court granted a warrant last summer to monitor the communications of former trump foreign policy vazor carter page. quote, the fbi and the justice department obtained the warrant targeting carter page's communications after convincing a foreign intelligence surveillance court judge that there was probable cau to believe page was acting as a agent of a foreign power, in this case, russia. this follows the explosive reports last week that revealed page met with a russian agent who attempted to recruit him back in 2013. according to court documents, that agent calls mr. page an idiot but said he was enthusiastic before being sentenced to 30 months in prison
in 2015, whatever that all means. reacting to the post story today, page called the whole thing a joke and wouldn't say whether he's talking to the fbi. >> there was probable cause to believe that you were acting as an agent for a foreign government. so my question is were you? >> of course i wasn't, jake. this is -- it's just such a joke that it's beyond words. >> have you talked to the fbi about their russia investigation? have you been interviewed by them or questioned by them in any way? >> i've always respected confidence aconfidentiality. i have nothing to say about any ongoing investigations that may or may not be going on. >> you're not going to comment? is that what you're saying? >> i have no comment. >> page is just one of several trump associates who have been scrutinized for their dealings or potential dealings with russian figures. but much like former national security adviser michael flynn and attorney general jeff sessions, who couldn't get their stories straight, carter page publicly denied having had meetings with russians before later admitting he did have
conversations with them. >> i'll ask again. did you have any meetings last year with russian officials in russia, outside russia, anywhere? >> i had no meetings, no meetings. >> did you meet sergey kislyak in cleveland? did you talk to him? >> i'm not going to deny that i talked with him. >> so you did talk to him? >> i will say that i never met him anywhere outside of cleveland. let's just say that much. >> the only time that you met him was in cleveland? >> that i may have met him possibly might have been in cleveland. >> meanwhile, nbc news reports today that paul manafort may register with the justice department as a foreign agent for his work for the pro-putin former government of ukraine. this all comes after two members of the house intelligence committee, democratic congressman joaquin castro and denny heck predicted last week that the russian investigations will lead to felony convictions. >> -- of collusion yet? >> i guess i would say this.
that my impression i wouldn't be surprised after all this is said and done that some people end up in jail. >> he said he would not be surprised if people ended up going to jail. i will be surprised if people don't end up going to jail. >> i'm joined now by msnbc political analyst david corn, matthew rosenberg and malcolm nance. malcolm, i want to start with you. put it together. what we're seeing here, let's just start with the carter page thing. the guy seems so loosecy goosy, some kind of narcissist who likes to be on television but never answers a single question but always wants to come out and giggle about it like he's on the dating game or something. explain the personality. is he a mole, a potential mole or just somebody looking for attention? i can't tell. >> you know, a few months ago when we chris hayes did the interview of carter page, i made a commentary after that. you know, right off the top of my head, i felt there was something wrong about the way he
was answering questions. he was not just evasive. he also used what are technically known as resistance techniques. and resistance techniques are the way that you should respond when you do not want an enemy to actually understand or know what you know, and you try to play stupid as possible. and, y know, but the way that heas you said, wants to be on television, he wants to be in the limelight, and that may be part of his role. i don't know what he works for at this point. but the fbi got a fisa warrant on the basis that they believed he was either an asset or an agent of a foreign intelligence agency. and as i said in that exact same interview with chris hayes, he had better either get a very good lawyer or, at the end of this, he had better prove that he was actually an fbi or a cia asset working against russian intelligence officers. you know, whichever one comes out of this is going to determine carter page's fate. >> david, this whole question is whether they were trying to recruit a mole to go into the
campaign. i'm trying to figure this whole thing out. obviously as malcolm makes the point, they met the standard of probable cause to get the fisa warrant. >> well, i don't think the russians necessarily needed a mole inside trump's campaign because all through the campaign season, he was more or less praising putin and saying things that were in line with what putin would like to see. you know, getting rid of sanctions. >> releasing hillary e-mails. >> so there was -- you know, and as we've seen, unless he's putting on a great act, carter page reminds me almost of zelig. he's not the guy i would sort of use to penetrate a campaign. but there's a lot else going on -- >> you think that was resistance tactic, what malcolm suggested, that loosey-goosey personality? >> certainly being evasive and not answering things directly, yet still seeking the limelight. if he was being handled by the russians or the fbi, they both would be telling him don't do this. >> page was also asked about his trip to russia last summer for a
commencement speech. i don't know why anybody would want that guy to give say commencement speech, but here's what i said when he spoke to anybody outside the community about the u.s. elections. >> you did n talk to any rush be at all other than students and parents and scholars about the presidential election? >> i met a few business people but no negotiations about anything in terms of anything related to the campaign whatsoever. >> i'm not talking about negotiations. did you ever talk with anyone there about maybe president trump if he were elected, then-candidate trump, would be willing to get rid of the sanctions? >> never any direct conversations such as that. i mean, look, it's -- >> what do you mean direct? i don't know what that means, direct conversations. >> i'm just saying, no, that was never said, no. >> the guy is trying to tease something. what's he doing, just playing a game here? >> you know, he's great.
he just talks nothing. we had this conversation the first time i talked to him where he mentioned j. edgar hoover, watergate, the church commission, muhammud ali, every conspiracy theory in the book. what's going on here? why is he doing this? let's just say the russians aren't the only one who's have called him an idiot. but the readout we keep getting from people is that this was about money for him. he was looking to make money. did he ever make any real money? there is another question. he doesn't seem to have done that well, but that this was a money issue for him. it's not about being pro-russian or anti-american. he wants to be make money. >> trump seems to be -- we'll get to it later in the show because of this 180 going on like i've never seen before. it's like us after pearl harbor, all of a sudden we're at war. all of a sudden we're now anti-russia. the other guy is a butcher. anyway, how does that fit with wit
with -- is this trump covering his tracks? it's his new posture to cover all is stuff going on in the campaign. >> trump had the opportunity today to speak out against putin. and he didn't. he was asked at the press conference with the nato secretary jgeneral, has your vu of putin changed? this is almost verbatim. russia is a strong country and we're a strong country and he's a strong leader. so he didn't take the chance. nikki haley, rex tillerson, they're saying whatever they're saying without any coordination, without the president. >> without any coordination. this administration has a secretary of state. it has -- the u.s. ambassador to the united nations and a press secretary, and they're not coordinating and you just assume that's -- >> i think they're keeping track of everyone by tweets. that seems to be the best they're doing at the moment. >> malcolm, you made a little chuckle. it's just weird. he's now decided he's going to be a cold warrior. he's going to be tough as any
hawkish neocon. he's going to take on assad. it's a pretty direct statement, but it's going back to something like a normal american foreign policy compared to his thing with bannon and that whole america first job. now he's into this whole new thing and it happened like overnight because he talked to ivanka. excuse me. that seems to be what's going on. >> this is -- well, it appears he's making war fighting decisions on the basis of the politics of emotion. and, you know, i had predicted early on that it probably was ivanka who came into the oval office, showed him the video, showed him that she was upset. you know, we changed all of our norms. he went straight to the barack obama school of let's take out the syrian air force, only he pulled his punch. he didn't destroy anything other than a few old aircraft that will now be replaced with better. he didn't destroy the chemical weapons, and he actually called the enemy and their associates and told them the missiles would be coming, get off the base. >> so, you know, we are w,
possibly because you have general mcmaster and you have general mattis leading the charge and, you know, tillerson, his rhetoric is now in line with mcmaster, mattis and nikki haley in the white house. >> how do you figure a guy hiring his own babysitters? what do you make of that? >> i don't -- to be quite honest, i don't know. but, you know, for the good of this nation, it's good that we have these commanders. >> malcolm, i don't know your politics, but i know your analytical ability and i think it's interesting that you've come up with a point like a lot of people have. we're better off having his cabinet run the show than him. >> well, he is president of the united states. he gets to be the final decision maker, you know. but this is to him perhaps a form of apprentice. he thinks that it is just the way ceos do things. but this is life and death. his statement towards north korea yesterday terrified me. i mean the north koreans are not playing games with these atomic weapons they have, and to make a statement like, well, if china
doesn't come with us, we'll just take care of them ourselves. you know, what he says what's going to have real-life consequences which could kill american citizens or cause harm to other nations. >> matthew. >> i think trump's probably -- >> this is not a tv show. i think malcolm is right. we get dragged into thinking we're watching an interesting survival or something here or apprentice, and in fact the stakes are us. >> i think it's always been a big fear too is every day there's friction with the u.s. somewhere in the world whe. we're the biggest world power. and every day we've depended on officials, the president, others to recognize it and ease off and press the gas when necessary. the fear has always been that trump will stumble into a war by accident, by talking too tough on north korea when they're not playing around. let's say he launched those tomahawks in the wrong place and the intelligence isn't right. you hit some russians by accident, which is certainly plausible if you try to repeat in syria. these are all really serious issues and we're getting this kind of tough guy routine followed up by, well, russia is
a strong country, though, but we are strong too. it's kind of bizarre talk in the middle of all of this. >> there are no core principles that seem to be guiding this, which means that everything is situational, which is how he lives his life. he says what he says at the time. its you did nt matter that he had a different position five nanoseconds ago. it's all about what's going to be right at that moment and best for him. that makes it hard -- i mean i'm sympathetic to mcmaster and the people around him because it's like trying to deal with a tornado that never touches down and you don't know which direction it's going while you're trying to have a coherent policy. you know, this is easy to sort of, you know, dismiss. but a lot of countries like to see stability and have an understanding of where a country like the united states is sitting, whatever direction, so you can deal with it. >> by the way, a lot of math in school is trying to figure out a trend line. you try to figure out with all the crazy gyrations, what's the trend line? i think what "the new york times" and the post is everybody else is trying to do is figure out where this is taking us every night because it isn't
clear from him. >> right. >> anyway, it's great to have you on. we'll have more on the russian investigation with former cia director leon pa net at tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern. coming up, is trump backing away from steve bannon. lately the guy seems to be disowning the guy that brought him. the president tells t"the wall street journal" today that bannon is, quote, a guy who works for me. sounds like one of the strongest indications yet that bannon's days might be numbered. plus vladimir putin meets with russian. president trump says the meeting went better than he thought it would,ut our relationship with russia is at an all time low. and later we're going to talk to our round table about trump's foreign policy, again trying to figure out this baby. is the president trying to steer this ship of state in a more traditional direction? he was for about two to three minutes today. i thought wait a minute. this guy is talking like a regular nt. i caught something in that
a 401(k) is the most sound way to go. let's talk asset allocation. -sure. you seem knowledgeable, professional. i'm actually a deejay. -[ laughing ] no way! -that really is you? if they're not a cfp pro, you just don't know. cfp. work with the highest standard. the first lady has settled her defamation lawsuit with the daily mail. melania trump filed a suit against the print and online editions of the tabloid after it reported she may have, quote, provided services beyond simply modeling. isn't that cute? well, trump and her attorney released a statement today saying the daily mail has apologized and agreed to pay her millions of dplollars in damage and mrs. trump will remain vigilant to protect her name. good for her. we'll be right back. time's up, insufficient prenatal care. and administrative paperwork... your days of drowning people are numbered.
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so you'rhow nice.a party? i'll be right there. and the butchery begins. what am i gonna wear? this party is super fancy. let's go. i'm ready. are you my uber? [ horn honks ] hold on. don't wait for watchathon week to return. [ doorbell rings ] who's that? show me netflix. sign up for netflix on x1 today and keep watching all year long. welcome back to "hardball." nbc news reports that president trump is frustrated with the constant squabbling in the white
house and he meant to fire a warning shot at steve bannon just yesterday when he gave this response to a new york post reporter who asked if he still had confidence in his senior adviser. quote, i like steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. i had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and i didn't know steve. i'm my own strategist, and it wasn't like i was going to change strategies because i was facing crooked hillary. that's trump. he added this warning. steve's a good guy, but i told him to straighten it out, or i will. in an interview with "the wall street journal" today, president trump referred to bannon as a guy who works for me. meanwhile, there's another white house official under fire. press secretary sean spicer again apologized for remarks yesterday that seemed to ignore the holocaust. spicer told reporters that hitler unlike assad didn't use chemical weapons and didn't gas his own people. here was spicer apologizing today. >> i made a mistake. there's no other way to say it. i got into a topic that i
shouldn't have, and i screwed up. it's a very holy week for both the jewish people and christian people, and this is not to make a gaffe and a mistake like this is inexcusable and reprehensible. on a professional level, it's disappointing because i think i've let the president down. and son both a personal level and a professional level, that will defitely go dn as not a very good day in my history. >> i'm joined by washington post columnist eugene robinson and republican strategist steve schmi schmidt. what do you make of this? let's talk about both these guys. first of all, bannon. i think somebody once said, beware. make sure the boss or the king never knows that you know his secrets. and bannon was on the inside when they were really looking like they weren't going to win. bannon was with them during the bus story with bully bush and all that. he was with them through that hell they had to go through, and this guys knows what trump was like when he thought he was
losing. >> step back for a second as we come to the end of the 100 days. it's the most unsuccessful first 100 days of any presidency in the modern era. his domestic agenda is completely stagnated. it's flat. as a republican and conservative, i'm delighted by the appointment and the supreme court justice gorsuch, but aside from that -- and steve bannon is the architect of all of this stuff. the chaos of the travel -- >> was it his agenda? >> well, his agenda -- and we were talking off air. this is the 72nd anniversary tonight of the death of franklin roosevelt. we think about the post-war u.s.-led liberal global order, that all presidents of both parties have bought into, the security, the peace of the world, the lifting of 2 billion people out of abject poverty around the world over the last 70 years. and steve bannon is hostile to it. you've never had someone in either party around a president of the united states with the views as radical as steve
bannon. i think prag matly, the president is going to have to make a choice. if he has any path to success, any claim to success, he's going to have to get some of these guys out there. >> what do you make of that gene? the way steve points it, there's nato, united nations, everything that worked to restore the world after world war ii. everything that was sort of positive. >> and bannon doesn't believe in it and wants to trash it. look, if the trump white house were a slasher movie, we'd all be in the theater screaming "steve, don't go in the basement, don't go in the basement. >> don't go in the wine cellar. >> exactly because those quotes from trump make it sound like he may be the next one to get it. clearly expressed dissatisfaction. >> usually the best friend gets knocked off near the end of both movies to make it interesting. what do you make of bannon? do you think he's being sold short by trump when trump says he's just a functionary? he's some guy that works for me around the shed somewhere? >> that's not what he was during
the campaign, and that's not what he is in the white house. he has largely set the agenda, i think, for the sort of opening weeks and months of the trump administration. it has not been successful. so, you know, you've got the bannon-led faction and you've got the jared kushner-led faction. and the jared kushner-led faction is way ahead. >> that's exactly what the talk is among the office. it is that trump likes success. big surprise. the last couple of weeks have been good for him. sure, spicer has got a problem. he will have that problem for a while, maybe for a long while. but the big success has been gorsuch as you said, and taking on assad, who nobody likes, partly getting through that use of fire power. you know, apparently not killing any russians, not really doing more damage than minimally necessary. he looked like a man who can make a decision, and now facing down putin in a way most americans would like to see us do, and getting along with china in a way we know we have to do. i mean, you know, this has been
a magic moment. for a couple minutes he seems to be doing it right, and he's doing it against the advice of steve bannon clearly. >> very successful summit with the chinese leader. a lot of antagonism towards jared kushner with regard to his age, to his inexperience. but jared worked to put that summit together. it was successful. so when you look at the bannon versus kushner fight, it seems to me that the kushner side of the fight is the one that's delivering wins and successes for the president. he's conducting himself in a way that's resulting in good coverage for the president, and i think with regard to syria, you saw the president of the united states re-establish a fundamental important norm in the international order, which is the united states will strike you if you use chemical weapons, period, full stop. it is, in fact, a red line. >> you brought in the subject of the really sad story. this is a washington story if there every was one. in his press briefing yesterday,
sean spicer trying to make a 0.about assad's use of chemicals by comparing him to hitler. he said during world war ii, even hitler didn't sink to using chemical weapons. well, later a reporter tried to help him clarify that statement. let's watch. >> quote, hitler didn't even sink to the level of using chemical weapons. what did you mean by that? >> i think when you come to sarin gas, there was no -- he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that assad is doing. i mean there was clearly -- i -- i understand your point. thank you. i appreciate that. there was not -- in the -- in the -- he brought them into the holocaust center. i understand that. but i'm saying in the way that assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent -- into the middle of towns. so the use of it and i appreciate the clarification there. that was not the intent. >> he was not really in an area of comfort or intelligence there because what he was saying what
we all grew up with, world war i was horrific because in the trenches it was all gas. then in world war ii, in the battlefield there was no use of gas by hitler at the end. but there was certainly gas used in the gas chambers. was he parroting something he heard trump say a couple hours before? somebody before him had said something about battlefield use of chemical weapons, and i think he was saying without any context -- >> well, i think what he was trying to say was militarily, they did not deploy chemical weapons on the battlefield. but of course the nazis murdered with gas 6 million jews. >> so is this a killer for him in a world of gaffes? trump has said much worse stuff about barack obama being an illegal immigrant for seven or eight years, mexicans be rapists, muslims being killers. >> i think the admissiomission
word jews from the holocaust remembrance statement, it might not be a bad idea for some members of the white house to maybe go and get after after-hours tour at the holocaust museum because they are a linguistics disaster talking about this, talking about the subject. and it's important because each generation, particularly as the generation that fought that war, that survived those camps passes from the span of a human lifetime, it's now our obligation to bear witness to the greatest crime in all of humanity. >> it absolutely is. and don't ever just easily reach for the hitler analogy. don't ever, ever, ever do that. >> i'm so proud of my uncle george who was a tank commander and he went into one of those camps. they weren't called holocaust centers. they were camps. i do wish him well in the sense that i think spicer has made a mistake and that's what it is, a mistake. thank you. up next, donald trump says relations between the united states and russia are now at an all-time low. this is his secretary of state sat down with vladimir putin for a meeting in moscow that trump
says although he hadn't talked to tillerson, went better than he thought it would. this is the craziest group. they don't even talk to each other. anyway, this is "hardball." it's not funny. why am i laughing? earning your cash back shouldn't be this complicated. yet some cards limit where you earn bonus cash back to a few places. and then, change those places every few months. enough with that! (echo) with quicksilver from capital one you've always earned unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere. welcome to unlimited. what's in your wallet? and you're about in to hit 'send all' on some embarrassing gas. hey, you bought gas-x®! unlike antacids, gas-x ® relieves pressure and bloating fast. huh, crisis averted.
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if you want help improving your a1c and blood sugar numbers with a non-insulin option, click to activate your within. ask your doctor about once-weekly trulicity. i'm page hopkins and here's what's happening. the u.s. dollar drops suddenly against the yen today after president trump said the currency was getting too strong. united airlines will refund the fares of all passengers aboard that flight from which a
passenger was forcibly dragged out. and tesla has a major parking shortage at its california facility despite being the most valuable u.s. car maker. tes tesla's ceo called it one of his biggest nightmares. now we're going to take you back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." candidate trump campaigned on resetting relations with russia. today as his secretary of state wrapped up a meeting in moscow, president trump wasn't so optimistic. >> i think that based on everything i'm hearing, things went pretty well, maybe better than anticipated. it would be wonderful as we were discussing just a little while ago if nato and our country could get along with russia. right now we're not getting along with russia at all. we may be at an all-time low in
terms of relationship with russia. this is buihas built for a longd of time, but we're going to see what happens. >> secretary of state rex tillerson sat down with russian president vladimir putin for nearly two hours today. according to "the new york times," it wasn't such a success. twot men appeared unable to agree on the facts involving deadly chemical weapons assault. hours later- actually, hours earlier in a clear dig at president trump, putin also told russian television that u.s.-russian relations were lower than it had been under the obama administration. tillerson concluded that meeting with a tense two-hour briefing alongside foreign minister lavrov. >> the perspective from the united states supported by the facts that we have are conclusive that the recent chemical weapons attack carried out in syria was planned, and it was directed and executed by syrian regime forces.
>> translator: it's quite evident, this topic with regard to which we have differences of opinion. >> i'm joined by a foreign policy writer for atlantic. she attended that press conference and joins me from moscow. and bianna golodryga, a yahoo! news and finance anchor. let me go with julia. give me a sense of what you thought of that meeting. >> i thought it was fascinating. first of all, vladimir putin even after playing games for about 24 hours, he's not going to meet with tillerson, he is going to meet with tillerson, he showed up to that meeting on time, which is unheard of. he was 45 minutes late to meet the pope. he was four hours late to meet angela merkel. he was three hours late to meet john kerry once, and he was on time for tillerson. and during that press conference, what was interesting is tillerson held a pretty firm line. he said things that we don't even hear from president trump. he said, you know, the case is
pretty much closed. the evidence is all there on russian meddling in the u.s. elections. he called -- he didn't push back against somebody invoking president trump calling assad an animal. he said he brought it on himself. and meanwhile, you had russian foreign minister sergey lavrov sitting next to him, trying to paper over these differences, trying to say, well, we're talking. we're talking about talking. we're going to get this thing back on track. so the russians from everything i've been hearing in the last couple days are really kind of caught off guard by this 180 in the last few days. and they're holding on to any kind of shred of hope or explanation as to why this is happening that, you know, president trump has his 100-day marker coming up, and he has to have something to show for his first 100 days. he's beholden to people like lindsey graham or marco rubio. he has to appease the neocons. they're trying to latch onto any kind of explanation they can and
any kind of hope they can that maybe if vladimir putin and donald trump sit down together, the same kind of great chemistry that trump talked about in his meeting with chinese leader xi, that this could possibly happen with putin. >> bianna, your thinking? do they want peace? do they want a good relationship or what? >> well, they want to be the two superpowers of the world. so both countries really got to walk away with something and a bit of leverage. i mean lavrov had home court advantage, and he really capitalized on that. it was interesting. he sort of schooled, was very patronizing at a time for rex tillerson calling him a political neophyte and remiendsing him of the u.s.'s history of past incursions in the middle east and warning against regime change as well. it's interesting also when talk came up about sanctions, they seemed to speak over each other. rex tillerson at one point saying that russia acted so suspiciously in syria that it warrants bringing up increased
sanctions, and lavrov quickly responded by saying, sanctions were not discussed at all. i will say that who was watching this closely aside from the rest of the world obviously was ukraine because there was a moment that was reported upon when tillerson had been meeting with his g7 counterparts and a report suggesting that he asked them point blank why should american taxpayers care about sanctions on ukraine. of course that sent alarm bells as well. but as julia said, russia is really trying to figure out who donald trump is, who's the real donald trump. meantime, president trump still has not publicly said anything against vladimir putin personally. >> julia, i had the sense that trump still wants to pull a master stroke of foreign policy and cut a deal with putin that somehow uses russian leverage on our side in the middle east so that everybody will say greatest president ever because if he can pull a deal like that, it will be better than teddy roosevelt
in the russo-japanese war. what do you think? by the way, when russians say things that aren't true at the top, do the people over there believe them? do they believe there wasn't any gas used in syria? >> yeah. i mean it depends on what -- you know, how many versions you see of this. but, look, russia has always acted not just as bashar al assad's ultimate backer but as his defense attorney, right? they're his johnnie cochran. they don't need to prove definitively that somebody else used the chemical weapons. they just have to muddy the waters a little bit and offer other potentially plausible versions so that people can say, well, all these other things could have happened too, and how do we know that this one version put out by the americans, who already have a flawed track record when it comes to presenting intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and using it as a pretext for military action, you know, when you consider all this other
stuff is perfectly reasonable. >> last word from both of you. first to julia, do they believe the russians helped trump win? >> no. >> they don't? okay. bianna, do they think the -- >> no, they don't. i'm sorry, what? >> do they believe the russians helped trump win? >> do they believe that russians helped trump win? i think it depends on who you ask. i think for the most part no. i think they believe in vladimir putin. i think that he's been able to distract them from economic distraughts at home. the country is now in its third year of economic recession because we're talking about russia on a daily basis. we've spent three days debating as to whether vladimir putin would meet with rex tillerson. this is the fourth administration that's been trying to understand and develop some sort of relationship with vladimir putin. so i would just warn president trump to be quick and don't focus too much about outfoxing vladimir putin because he's outlasted a lot of his predecessors. >> thank you so much.
up next, trump's foreign policy. is the president trying to steer the ship of state in a more traditional direction all of a sudden? the "hardball" round table is here coming up next. you're watching "hardball." e*trade's powerful trading tools, give you access to in-depth analysis, and a team of experienced traders ready to help if you need it. it's like having the power of a trading floor, wherever you are. it's your trade. e*trade
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welcome back to "hardball." donald trump has been consistent when it comes to his domestic policy america first. it's a line he repeated throughout his campaign and strongly reiterated during his inaugural address. but it's his foreign policy that has been a work in progress. today he walked back his campaign criticism thatato was obsolete and he told "the wall street journal" he would no longer declare china a currency manipulator. and if you didn't know who was speaking, you'd think it was hillary clinton. is donald trump finally being normalized? for more i'm joined by our rournd take, david ignatius, indira lack ma shan, and howard
fineman, global editorial director. i've got to go with david because we read your column today. for a couple of moments during his press conference today, i said, my god, trump is capable of sustaining for a few minutes what sounds like common sense about the need to have a skeptical view of russia, kind of a keep them calm view of china, and a tough view of assad. and i thought it all made sense for a while today. >> i thought the press conference today was an unusual -- this has been a catastrophic three months for donald trump. i thought today's press conference, we saw somebody who was learning how to be president. i thought the way he described his meetings with xi jinping, the president of china, arguably the most important country for the u.s. to learn to deal with, the way he described working with xi to figure out a way to deal with north korea's nuclear
program, i thought those were the things that you want a president to do. he talked about them in the right way. just one final point. when he said that nato is no longer obsolete, note he said it wasn't obsolete because he fixed it. he said it's now dealing with terrorism, so it's no longer -- so it was a win for donald trump. >> he also had an ally there, the head of nato, the norwegian guy. >> i think the problem here is that donald trps doing foreign policy by gut, and this is not foreign policy by expertise or by knowledge. >> or history. >> or history. it's basically based on who he last spoke to. so before he meets the chinese leader, china's's currency manipulator. once he sits down with him, spends an evening with him, a day, he's like, oh, he's not that bad. he makes some interesting points, particularly about north korea. actually north korea, handling it harder than i thought it was. i'm so surprised. i mean the consistent message here is that donald trump is
inconsistent from the campaign until now. >> aren't you giving me the definition of the ultimately unsophisticated person? >> i mean this is the problem. he didn't understand how hard foreign policy was. he didn't understand how hard health care was. he keeps saying things like nobody knew how hard health care was. actually, we all knew that. nobody knew how hard controlling north korea was. we did actually know that. so he's suddenly finding out all these things. but he said, i alone can fix it. he said i know more about isis than the generals. and, you know, now based on whoever last influences him, whether it's ivanka over the syrian gas attacks or whatever, he's changing policy as it goes. >> howard, where did he find this sudden scholar? >> i don't think he's pretending that he's a scholar. i think, you know, this is like henry kissinger on mountain dew. he rushed onto the stage. he's making all kinds of big elaborate plays between russia and china. he was basically saying to
russia today in so many words, okay, i don't have to just like you. i really like china right now because i spent time with xi jinping. he came down to mar-a-lago -- >> i know what you're saying. you're saying betty and veronica. >> he's really a great guy. i think the danger in this is, you know, we demand of every president they have a doctrine. you know, the obama doctrine, the truman doctrine. trump is saying, i don't have a doctrine. i'm flexible. if i can use a football analogy, he's not going to listen to the coach on the sidelines. he's going to run out onto the field. he's going to call all the plays himself. >> audibles. >> audibles, even though he's never played football. now, he may have a great gut for this, and he may be able to simplistically say, you know what, i'm going to no longer say that china is a currency manipulator and they're not going to ship coal to north korea, and they're going to play with me, and that's going to make putin scared. i mean he doesn't know any of the underlying stuff. so who is really -- >> let's start around the room
with when it gets close to mattering. it's not about deliberation necessarily, but it's about preparedness. how does he prepare to keep kim jong-un from firing off a missile in the next four years? >> well, clearly what he's decided is that when kim and north korea do not yet have the ability to strike the united states with a nuclear weapon is the time to deal with this problem, and i think that's probably good policy. if you wait until they have the ability to attack, that's a much, much different, much worse. so i think he's looked that in the eye. i think he's in many ways winging it. this man was radically unprepared to be president. he's kind of in a sense lurching from issue to issue. he has seen med in the last wee to have more balance. i don't think it's just the last person he talked to. i think he's restrained himself just enough to let the policy
process work. note that he didn't -- he could have blown up all this diplomacy with stupid tweets in the middle of it, and generally he didn't, and that's a difference from right after the inauguration. >> i agree with that. he has -- he has pretty much stopped, pretty much, not entirely. he has pretty much for now stopped trying to conduct diplomacy by tweet. >> strategy does require discipline, and this man is ill disciplined. we know that. he does still have a tiwitchy tweet finger and i expect that to come back. you need predictability -- >> trump is saying no to predictability. he's saying, i'm going to handle this the way i handle real estate negotiation in manhattan. >> you'll all be back in a minute. up next, they're going to tell me something i don't know. that's always the exciting part of the show. this is "hardball," where the action is.
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new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business fendly environmen new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. learn more at esd.ny.gov senator orrin hatch isn't ready to call it quits just yet. he plans to seek re-election in 2018 because president trump wants him to stay put. take a listen. >> he is all over me to run again. my leadership in the republican senate are all over me to run again. the house leadership, some of those want me to run again. you know, i don't want to hold on to this job just to hold on to it. if i couldn't do the job or i wasn't in a position to really help this country come out of the mess it's in, yeah, i
wouldn't consider it at all. but i know i'm in a position where i can help, where i can help donald trump like nobody else can. >> well, the 83-year-old senator previously said he may not seek an eighth term if mitt romney decided to run for the senate seat in utah. i guess that's gone. he's sticking. we'll be right back.
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when a fire destroyed everything in our living room. we replaced it all without touching our savings. yeah, our insurance won't do that. no. you can leave worry behind when liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance we're back with the "hardball" round table. david, tell me sometng i don't know. >> such is the animosity towards steve bannon among some of his white house colleagues that his statement after he was fired from the nsc that he had just been trying to deoperationalize the nsc was described by one of his colleagues as an insult to the nsc. >> hmm. >> today housing and urban development secretary ben carson was stuck in an elevator at a housing project in miami that he was visiting that is co-owned by miami heat's alonzo mourning and his nonprofit. and the idea of being stuck in a
housing development in the elevator just felt to me like an analogy for something. >> well, since this is bannon week, let me add that donald trump likes his senior advisers to look ship shape. he likes rex tillerson looking like the big dog. >> we're looking at bannon right now. >> and that particular picture of steve bannon, which was on the front page of drudge today, significantly on the conservative website is an expression of donald trump's displeasure. shape up or ship out. >> oh, my god. trump's not exactly a skinny minn minnie. >> it does haven't to do with skinny. he wears a tie. >> thank you, david ignatius, indira and howard. when we return, let me finish with trump watch. he ain't going to like it. you're watching "hardball." maybe he will tonight. professional. would you trust me as your financial advisor? -i would. -i would indeed. well, let's be clear, here. i'm actually a deejay.
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churchill's advice to study history. for him the earth was created in quite recent memory. everything is without precedent. nothing ever happened before, and everything now is as he put is so finely this afternoon, a mess. let's start with the mess part, which is easiest to explain because if you accept his statement that all is lost, then anything that's not a mess a few months from now goes to his credit. he will be the one who rose us up from the mess. it's his ignorance of the past, of history that i predict is going to confound us. didn't he take any humanities courses at penn? didn't he read anything at all in his 70 years? didn't he give any thought to anything but real estate? trump seems to be thinking about the middle east, russia, anyway tote, the whole globe we live on for the first time. does he know we have to wear two hats in the middle east? one is an ally of israel, one is an honest broker. does he know we have to avoid at all cost a military confrontation with russia. does he know how tricky it is to keep kim jong-un from firing off a missile.
does he have a sense to be able to handle the territory now? does he know the hazards that have scared all the men before him? maybe we'll strike it just right like the proverbial monkey given enough time on the keyboard will type "merry christmas." but should we dread the thought of how many other combinations he's capable of in the meantime. late today in his press conference, i thought for a few minute that when trumpas talking about giving our relationship with russia time, when he talked about really getting to know china's president xi, when he called bashar al assad a butcher, i thought i heard someone say, merry christmas. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in." >> putin is the leader of russia. russia is a strong country. >> foreign agents. >> paul manafort has done an amazing job. >> new questions about trump aides working for foreign rn